English for parents – tantrum

The day is going so well, you’ve been to the park and had a lovely lunch, then suddenly, your toddler wants another ice-cream which you won’t give him, and you’re in the middle of tantrum city.

Tantrum is the word for the sudden crying, screaming and angry behaviour that 2-3 year olds often go through, especially if they can’t get something they want, or they don’t want to do something you ask.

Toddler have tantrums, or you can say ‘throw a tantrum’. You can also say

  • he is throwing/having a fit
  • she is having a meltdown
  • he’s throwing/having a hissy fit
  • she’s throwing a wobbly
  • he’s making a scene.

Although we use these words for toddlers, they can also be used for adults who behave in a childish way too.




Published by Abbie

English teacher, coach and writer. Helping English learners and teachers get more confident in their skills.

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